Sumblin translates authenticity into music

Published 5:49 pm Friday, August 26, 2022

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Tevin Sumblin, who was born and raised in Franklin, is a successful architectural engineer in Atlanta who has been making the most of many different talents he has been given. This is why he has also developed into a popular rapper who is releasing his debut album Friday, Aug. 26.

Music has been a passion for the 27-year-old Sumblin since he was in middle school, but he was not expecting to become a professional performer and recording artist.

“It’s not something I had planned for my life, but I feel that God has pushed me in that direction,” he said.

He noted that his “true passion for music came around the age of 12 or 13 years old just listening to lyrical artists such as Biggie, Tupac, Jay-Z, even Lil Wayne at the time, just appreciating what they were saying in some of the music that was influential,” he said. “I know some of the messages aren’t the greatest, but as far as certain songs, I always try to attract myself to something positive. Later on down the road, it became a love for even some gospel artists like Andy Mineo, Lecrae.”

He said his passion has continually evolved, and his brother, Ryan Sumblin, introduced him to one of his favorite artists today, Wale.

For Tevin, music started as a hobby.

“I’ve always wanted to write music,” he said. “I probably started writing when I was around 14 years old, but I never released anything.”

He would write something and then throw it in the trash because he didn’t think it was good.

Sumblin graduated from Franklin High School in 2013 and then went to college at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University to pursue his degree in architectural engineering. But he also continued to write music.

“So I was in college my sophomore year, and my friend told me, he was like, ‘Hey, man, I saw what you wrote. You should actually perform it and put it out there,’” Sumblin recalled. “So I did it my sophomore year, got great reception, and ever since then (writing’s) just become a passion for me. I just love to write about my life and my story, about God, about my family and just keep it real.”

A notable quality of Sumblin’s music is that he does not curse in any of his songs, which is a conscious decision.

“I want my music to be for everyone,” he said. “My music, it tells the story about the pains and the ups and the downs through my life, how God has blessed me from the little small-town kid to be where I am today, so I wanted to make sure that’s reflected in my music about who I am.”

After he graduated magna cum laude from North Carolina A&T, Sumblin’s move to Atlanta was motivated by his full-time engineering work, though it is more and more serving a dual purpose.

“I always say that I don’t believe in luck, I believe that God predestined everything,” he said. “With Atlanta being a big music space, it was only right for God to place me here for my job.”

Turner Construction Company had opportunities in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Atlanta, Georgia.

“Since a little kid, I always said I wanted to live in Atlanta,” Sumblin said, “I just don’t know why I said that as a kid,” but he made it a reality when he chose the Atlanta opportunity. “Me and my wife are just down here thriving now. I just thank God for his blessings.”

His music career began to develop in Atlanta when he started doing a lot of showcases around the city, meeting people.

“And even when I joined Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. down in Atlanta, it opened a lot of doors for me to meet some people as well within the music industry and just helped me expand,” he said.

Sumblin’s music is released to all the major streaming platforms through an independent company called UnitedMasters.

He noted that UnitedMasters has opportunities on its website offering people chances to submit music and have it be showcased in major ways.

He wrote a song called “The Come Up” and released it in 2020.

“When I wrote this song, I was like, ‘I think this would be a cool video game song, especially for basketball,’” he said. “I’ve always been a huge basketball fan, as well as baseball, since I was a little kid, and I submitted my song.”

As time passed, he forgot about having submitted it, and he said it was probably five months later, in February of 2021, that he heard it had been selected as a finalist for being showcased in a video game.

A week after he was told it was a finalist, he awoke from a nap to an epic phone call.

“I woke up to Steve Stoute, who is the CEO of UnitedMasters, and Jayson Tatum, NBA all-star from the Boston Celtics, listening to my song,” he said. “They were bobbing their heads, they were having a great time listening to it, and they were like, ‘Hey, man, you’ve been selected as a featured artist on the NBA 2K22 soundtrack.’”

NBA 2K is a highly popular video game series that has been running for more than 20 years and regularly features famous and developing artists on its soundtracks.

“So that was big for me, and it’s almost like a dream come true,” Sumblin said. “It’s not something I had planned for my life, but I feel that God has pushed me in that direction.”

He said that one thing he laughs with joy and smiles about with his wife is that he has had a variety of artists that he has looked up to and admired for years, and “now I’m on the same soundtrack with these people, so it’s a great feeling. It’s truly a pleasure and an honor.”

He noted that he was one of only 10 people from across the globe whose music was selected from a field of more than 13,000 submissions.

“From there on, I saw that the world was actually appreciative of the gift that God gave me, so I took it seriously, sat down and really focused in and honed in on this album.”

The 11-track album that he has been working on for about a year is titled “WordPlay.”

Sumblin indicated that this album would not have been possible to write when he was much younger.

“One thing I know I realized is I had to go through life to really talk about something,” he said.

And that is what the album does — it talks about his life. It talks about his family, and the family he and his wife, Chardonnay Sumblin, hope to build.

“One thing I like to offer is transparency, so my testimony is, me and my wife, we’ve actually experienced four miscarriages,” he said. “That’s in the album as well, and that’s the reason I do what I do is because I understand there’s other people in the world who’ve experienced what I’ve experienced, and sometimes they feel alone, so I’m hoping to reach a lot of people who’ve maybe experienced what I’ve experienced.”

Deante Hitchcock, a platinum artist, will feature on “WordPlay.”

Tevin said the album features really fast, lyrical rapping, as well as smooth, suave rapping that he knows a lot of women will enjoy, especially his wife. 

“Most of my music, when it’s female-related, is literally about her, just the things we’ve been through, my mindset of thinking of her,” he said. “It just makes life and music easy. I feel like when you’re authentic and not superficial, it just becomes easy. You just rap about what you go through in your life.”

As a rapper, Sumblin goes by the name E.R.A.

“It is an acronym, and it stands for ‘Every Rhyme’s Authentic,’” he said. 

It fits as a description of the music he is creating, and a couple other factors went into making it his rap name as well.

“The reason I gave myself that rap name a little while ago was I realized that in most of the videos I was shooting, I was wearing a New Era cap, and I’ve always been a baseball fan and a baseball player,” said Sumblin, who was a three-time MVP for Franklin High School’s baseball program. “So I was like, ‘Hey, this is a good way to mix baseball, my love for hats and everything into one,’ and then it just created itself into Every Rhyme’s Authentic, so I’ve stuck with it since — for about six years now.”

Sumblin’s music has more than 20,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, and he has more than 500,000 streams as an artist.

He has now lived in Atlanta for a little more than five years. Engineering remains his full-time work, but music has begun to bring in some money as well.

“I’m a very busy person,” he said. “A lot of times I just love to have my hands in different things, so I continue to push forward in engineering, investments, all kinds of different things, and then music, of course, is one of my top priorities.”

And he and Chardonnay have maintained their focus on building a family.

“We’re still praying, still hoping, we’re excited for the kids God’s going to bless us with in the future, so that’s where we are now,” he said.

Until then, they have blessings they are spending their time counting now, with his debut album being the latest.

“We’ve definitely experienced a lot of blessings coming from a small town, and being able to make something of ourselves out here in Atlanta now, it’s definitely a blessing from above,” he said.

“WordPlay” will be available on all major streaming platforms.